COUNCIL chiefs are not doing enough to help Stratfordians get their feet on the housing ladder.
So says Independent councillor, Peter Barnes, who believes there are not enough affordable properties available to rent or buy in the district.
Coun Barnes maintains many people who have grown up in the district would like to set up home there but the cost of doing so is too high.
And the Welford ward member claims money, which could go towards helping first-time and other buyers, is being ‘needlessly’ wasted by Stratford District Council on planning appeals.
He told The Observer: “Those who have lived in the district as a youngster often want to stay there and build a home with their family but it’s just not an option.
“There is not enough affordable housing available and many people simply can’t pay the high costs of renting.
“In other areas the New Homes Bonus has been used to help first-time buyers put down a deposit and this is something I think should be implemented in Stratford.
“Sadly though, the money is needlessly wasted on defending planning appeals instead of being used for a much better purpose.”
Stratford District Council no longer owns or manages any affordable housing of its own but the authority plays a major role in providing additional affordable housing.
And council leader Chris Saint was quick to defend the authority saying it was doing everything it could to improve the situation.
He confirmed 215 affordable homes had been built in the last year – a record annual figure – and said the issue had been identified as one of the council’s corporate priorities.
Coun Saint also highlighted the council’s ‘Local Choice’ initiative, which allows rural communities to identify their own affordable housing needs and ensures new homes are let to those with strong ties to the area.
Responding to Coun Barnes’ criticism, he said: “The New Homes Bonus is used to provide services to an enlarged population and we have also used it to provide funding for one-off projects.
“The Government would appear to be about to reduce this bonus but it was never designed for the purpose Coun Barnes suggests.
“The district council has a strong and long-standing commitment to meeting the housing needs of its residents. Quality, affordable, homes make a vital contribution to the continued health and sustainability of our local communities.”